Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Berlin (dpa) – Germany’s Interior Ministry would consider sending migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea back to Africa, a spokesman said in comments published Sunday.

« A lack of prospects when they reach the European coast could make migrants give up on the idea of undertaking the dangerous journey, and putting their lives and money at risk, » said a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

According to the proposal, migrants from Libya could be taken back to a third country such as Tunisia or Egypt. From there, they could apply for asylum in Europe.

If successful, they would be brought to the continent.

The proposal is at an initial stage and has not been formally raised at an EU level, the ministry said.

Some 4,220 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year so far, according to the International Organization for Migration, representing an increase of 725 compared to the same period last year.

Many of those who risk the crossing, often on overfilled boats operated by people-smugglers, are fleeing conflict or persecution in their home countries.